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Biosecurity law change loads costs on to industry

Biosecurity law change loads costs on to industry

Federated Farmers is happy to see that the Government is giving Biosecurity a much needed shake up in the Biosecurity Law Reform Bill, but there are some huge holes that still need work.

“New Zealand, more than any other developed country, relies on the primary sector to earn our way in the world. Any biosecurity risk can ravage our economy irreparably so this review has been long overdue,” says John Hartnell, Federated Farmers biosecurity spokesperson.

“We agree with many of the proposed legislative changes, including collaboration with the private sector, stronger leadership and clearer role definitions. But the proposals surrounding joint cost sharing are downright contradictory.

“Under these proposals, exporters are being asked to cost share biosecurity incursion response, without having any say in frontline operations and policy.

“As crazy as this sounds it means that the importers, the ones bringing risk into New Zealand are getting a free ride from our exporters.

“Effectively, exporters are being asked to cover for the failings in our biosecurity umbrella.

“Biosecurity benefits all New Zealanders equally, so the costs should fall on Government as it’s no different to policing, health or defense.

“The other issue we have with the Bill is that too much of its focus remains on the post-border response - an ‘ambulance at the bottom of the cliff’ role.

“Surveillance and risk response are important, but should never take priority over the pre-emptive measures that spot and kill these problems before they reach our shores.

“We would like to see more formal offshore biosecurity arrangements.

“While it’s good to see the Government reviewing our biosecurity laws, we would still like to see better communication with industry groups and intra-governmental groups.

“And stating the obvious, we would like to see some stronger enforcement measures, such as instant fines and increased legal clout for MAF Biosecurity NZ.

“Federated Farmers advocates for an elevation in the status of biosecurity. Its time to stop underestimating its importance to New Zealand.

“Transferring incursion costs on to industry will only hurt exporters and do nothing to boost border and pre-border control. It’s crucial we get these changes right,” Mr Hartnell concluded.

ENDS

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